Chipola College and Florida State University Explore AM Career Pathways

Chipola College (Chipola) and Florida State University (FSU) are actively working with FLATE, Pensacola State College (PSC), Gulf Coast State College (GCSC), Tallahassee Community College (TCC), and the Northwest Florida Manufacturing Consortium (NWFMC) on a 3-year NSF-funded research project to document advanced manufacturing (AM) school-to-career pathways in rural Northwest Florida. Our goals are to 1) investigate the role of AM program pathways in meeting the needs of employers and new professionals in the region; 2) expand the research base and curriculum content recommendations for entrepreneur and intrapreneur education; 3) disseminate, replicate, and refine study approaches through annual research skill building academies in which Chipola, FSU, and FLATE empower rural Panhandle colleges to perform ongoing AM program assessment.

Our first year, we created the foundations and gathered data for our research: we examined definitions and competency models of advanced manufacturing in depth; we synthesized published research, industry reports, and government documents relating to AM’s role in rural economic development and national priorities; the regional colleges worked together to compile their AM syllabi the research team gathered job postings from our Northwest Florida and throughout the state; and we began building an AM Body of Knowledge (BOK), based on nationally specified competencies for AM technicians. Now in the second year of the project, we are initiating to perform a large-scale triangulation between syllabi content, employer expectations, and new professional experiences. Using the BOK as a common vocabulary, we will map, compare, and contrast these data points to identify gaps and synergies that will help us understand the extent to which regional AM program are meeting employers’ needs as well as an area for expansion and improvement. These strategies will allow us to how program content and changing employer priorities impact the choices and experiences of students and new professionals to define journeys from school to colleges to work.

Throughout these next two years of the project, we will be eager to engage with the larger AM community to review our progress and research results. The research team, led by Marcia A. Mardis, Faye Jones, and Chuck McClure at Florida State University, along with David Bouvin and Darwin Gilmore at Chipola College, will be sharing their work at the ET Forum in Sarasota (March 2019), the ASEE Annual Conference in Tampa (June 2019), Hi-TEC in St. Louis (July 2019), and the NSF Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Annual Meeting in Washington, DC (October 2019). We also have several journal publications in development, with publication aims of late 2019, and our next regional academy slated for fall 2019.
For rural communities, AM offers a dynamic and transformative economic development opportunity. By supporting NSF ATE's goal of improving and supporting effective technician education and workforce preparation, the AM pathways research team intends to enhance student recruiting strategies, establish better understanding of employer needs, and benefit technician education in Northwest Florida and beyond.
(Submitted by David Bouvin, Chipola College,, and Marcia A. Mardis, FSU,

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